#JaneEyreFF Rereading Jane Eyre in #FlashFiction #Chapter1

Jane Eyre in Flash Fiction Chapter 1

How I came to be locked in the red-room

There was no possibility of taking a walk that chilly November afternoon.

My cousins Eliza, John and Georgina were clustered around their mother and my aunt, Mrs Reed, in the drawing room, while I was kept at a distance, accused of insolence.

I made myself at home on the window-seat in the breakfast-room, behind a heavy curtain, reading Berwick’s History of British Birds, with its eerie pictures, which told mysterious stories of marine phantoms, churchyards, torpid seas and gallows.

My cousin, John, who at fourteen was four years older and twice my size, interrupted my solitude, ordering me to return his book because I was a penniless orphan and an unwanted guest at his house.

I did as requested and he threw the book at my head with such force that I fell and hit my head on the door. Blood trickled down my neck. “You are wicked like the Roman emperors,” I said, because I had read all about Nero and Caligula in Goldsmith’s History of Rome.

He called me a rat and pulled my hair viciously. I fought him off frantically and when his mother found us; I was accused of aggressive behaviour and dragged upstairs to be locked in the red room.

The first chapter of Jane Eyre is impressive. The reader is thrust into a brave, intelligent and abused ten-year-old’s struggle to survive in a hostile world.

The story begins in Jane’s lowest moment; orphaned, unloved, bullied, physically beaten, silenced and locked in a room. It may not be a coincidence that at this precise moment, Bertha Antionetta Mason, the first Mrs Rochester, was also locked in the attic at Thornfield Hall.

We learn that Jane is an orphan who lives with her unloving aunt and nasty cousins, much like Cinderella, but with a bullying boy added to the picture. We also know she is an intelligent child who reads and understands books for adults about Roman emperors and birds.

We feel immediate compassion for the child, but we are also aware that she is not to be pitied. Jane is an intelligent and spirited girl who is prepared to face her bullies and fight for her freedom.

The summary is based on the free ebook by planet books which you can find here.

Here’s a post I wrote about the books Jane Eyre read.

Here’s a post I wrote about the first line of Jane Eyre: “There was no possibility of taking a walk that day.” 

I’ll be posting a chapter of Jane Eyre in flash fiction every Friday. If you’re wondering why, read all about it here.

So if you’d you’d like to Reread Jane Eyre with me, visit my blog every Friday for #JaneEyreFF posts.

See you next week for chapter 2!

Images from Pixabay

#AtoZChallenge ‘H is for House’ #Haiku #NaPoWriMo #PoetryMonth

Lonely house by shore
Wrapped in ice-cold sea and snow.
Warm wood glows inside.

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This photograph was taken by my friend and colleague Thor Walum, retired English teacher and lover of Spain and photography, who lives in a beautiful, tiny island in the north of Norway, which I was lucky enough to visit some years ago.

The light and colours I saw in Norway, were spectacular. I’ve never seen such fabulous colours anywhere else I’ve visited.

Thor took this photo at the end of November, during the dark months, when there are only a few hours of partial daylight, from the bus on his way into town on the island of Hinnøya. It used to be an old sea house, used by fishermen, but it has been refurbished recently, preserving its original shape of a hundred years ago.

This is the same view, earlier in the year, with more daylight and less snow!

You can check out some more of Thor’s fabulous photos here on Facebook,

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This year is my fourth AtoZ Challenge. My theme this year is poetry once again. I’ll be writing a haiku a day, but I’m also adding a new hobby to the posts, photography. I will post one of my photos, or a donated photo, every day to accompany my haiku.

This April, I’ll also be sharing my poems and joining another group of poets at National Poetry Writing Month, organised since 2003 by Maureen Thorsonn. Write 30 poems in 30 days. I’m in! What about you?

There was no possibility of taking a walk that (November) day.

November is a dark and ominous month in Jane Eyre’s life.

Firstly, she is locked in the red room, as a child, at Gateshead. Secondly, she is lonely at Thornfield Hall, before Rochester’s arrival. Finally she is leading a solitary life in Morton, while her cousin, whom she doesn’t love, proposes to her.

Gateshead 

The first lines of Jane Eyre presents the reader with a gloomy November day:

There was no possibility of taking a walk that day…. the cold winter wind had brought with it clouds so sombre, and a rain so penetrating, that further out-door exercise was now out of the question.

The young girl, under ten years old, was confined to the house she detested. She had been taken in by a family who relegated her to the position of a homeless poor relative they despised. In the breakfast room, where she was expelled, away from the rest of the family, who were comfortably seated in the drawing-room, Jane observed:

…to the left were the clear panes of glass, protecting, but not separating me from the drear November day. At intervals, while turning over the leaves of my book, I studied the aspect of that winter afternoon. Afar, it offered a pale blank of mist and cloud; near a scene of wet lawn and storm-beat shrub, with ceaseless rain sweeping away wildly before a long and lamentable blast.’

Later that day, she was confined to the ghostly Red Room, after refusing to be bullied and beaten by her cousin John Reed.

Thornfield

Jane arrived at sombre Thornfield Hall  in October, but chilly November arrived fast, and Mrs, Fairfax informed Jane of what to expect from then on:

I’m sure last winter (it was a very severe one, if you recollect, and when it did not snow, it rained and blew), not a creature but the butcher and postman came to the house, from November till February; and I really got quite melancholy with sitting night after night alone.

Thornfield Hall was a vault-like, dreary place between November and February. On this occasion, Mr. Rochester returned in January, when he met Jane on the icy causeway, on her way to Hay.

Morton.

Shortly after moving to Morton, and recovering her health, in November, Jane set up a school, where she lived. She found both a job and lodgings. She describes the rudimentary building:

I had closed my shutter, laid a mat to the door to prevent the snow from blowing in under it, trimmed my fire, and after sitting nearly an hour on the hearth listening to the muffled fury of the tempest, I lit a candle, out of the frozen hurricane—the howling darkness.

Shortly after, still in November, she learnt of her uncle’s death and the fortune she had inherited. Months later, she returned to Thornfield Hall in search of Rochester.

November in Jane Eyre

November is the month of transition between the warmer and colder part of the year. It heralds a time of introversion and hard work in order to lay the foundations for the spring.

During those chilly autumn days at Thornfield, Jane more than teaches, she transforms Adele into a more docile pupil, and ears the respect of the rest of the staff who thought she was too frail for the job. By the time Rochester arrives she’s literally become the ruler of the roost. She sleeps upstairs with Mrs. Fairfax, very near the master’s room, she has got to know the house and the area, she has gained the respect of everyone, and she loves it at Thornfield. There is no-one to boss her around, until he arrives.

In Morton, she occupied her time drawing and reading, teaching, and gaining the respect of the locals as she worked as their teacher at the newly founded school, until she learnt of her new and improved situation.

The positive events in Jane Eyre occur in spring and summer, while winter is a time for introspection, loneliness, and hardship. Fortunately, spring and summer bring renewed hope and love to her life, as we have seen in other posts on this blog.

Emily Dickinson, on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean, also had a sad, cold,  and difficult view of November.

Charlotte Bronte would have loved this poem, which she probably never read.

How happy I was if I could forget
To remember how sad I am
Would be an easy adversity
But the recollecting of Bloom

Keeps making November difficult
Till I who was almost bold
Lose my way like a little Child
And perish of the cold.